Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made. He said to the women, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. For God know that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.

Genesis 3:1-7

After God created man and woman, He placed them in Paradise, the Garden of Eden. There humanity lived in peace and in union with God. Genesis 2:25 tells us that man and woman were naked and unashamed. God gave Adam and Eve free reign in Paradise, with one caveat, to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because if they did so, in that day they would die. God did not put this tree there to tempt them. He actually put it there out of love. The relationship between man and God was to be one of free will. Man was not compelled to love or obey God, this was a choice. It was not imposed but chosen of free will.

The devil came and tempted Adam and Eve by telling them a lie: He asked Eve whether God had told them not to eat of any tree of the garden. She answered that God said they were not allowed to eat of one tree, lest they die. The serpent, the devil, then said “you will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5) The tree looked attractive, and even more attractive was the ability to be like God. And so, Adam and Eve ate from the tree, and their eyes WERE opened, and now they knew they were naked, and they were ashamed. So, they sewed fig leaves together and made aprons for themselves.

Then they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. Before falling to temptation, the presence of the Lord walking in the garden was something they looked forward to. They would walk with the Lord in the garden in the cool of the day, but now they were ashamed and hid themselves. God called out for them “Where are you?” And Adam said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” God answered “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (Genesis 3:9-11) And this resulted in the fall of mankind and expulsion from Paradise. Adam and Eve were not only clothed in garments of skins, but in garments of shame. They were sent forth from Paradise, forced to till the ground and eventually died.

The devil continues to tempt us with lies. The favorite lies being perpetuated in the world today are:

~There is nothing after we die—get all you can while you are alive.

~There is no God, no Jesus, it’s all a myth, or a construct to help us deal with hard times.

~It is better to get than to give, so get everything you can and hold onto all of it.

~It feels good to be angry, because self-righteousness isn’t anger at all, it is righteousness.

~It is better to hold a grudge than to free someone from their guilt.

~The thing I’m not supposed to have is the thing I want the most.

We hear these lies every day and from every direction. These lies and many others are perpetuated in the world today by the devil. Sometimes he is obvious, sometimes he is subtle, many times he is patient, he waits for us to wear down and then he strikes. He comes to us in an acceptable form, even in friendships, even in good intentions. He twists truth, corrupts things that are noble, and makes what is wrong attractive.

As Christians, we are not only in a fight for Christ, but we are also in a fight against the devil. As Christians, we are not only on a journey to paradise, but in a daily battle to take steps in the right direction. As Christians, we not only have to deal with the stresses and setbacks of life, but if we are serious, we have to deal with our own sense of shame, our own nakedness before God. This is why Great Lent is such a great opportunity. It is an opportunity to deal with the things that take us away from God, whether that is fixing a bad habit, or making a better habit; whether that is forgiving someone else or forgiving ourselves; whether that is extending mercy to someone or asking for God’s mercies on us. Many of us, if we are honest, relate to the depiction of Adam and Eve walking away from the Garden of Eden. We are too ashamed to look back at paradise, knowing that we don’t belong there. Or maybe we believe the lies of the devil, or that there is no Paradise, or that God won’t really judge us.

I have heard the voice of God in my life. I have seen the majesty of God in my life. I have also heard the voice of the devil, and I have bought into lies that have caused a wake of destruction in many corners of my life. The idea of walking intimately with God in the cool of Paradise is something that I hope will be in my future. However, many times I feel like Adam and Eve at the fall, I want to hide from God, I feel naked and ashamed.

Old cartoons show a little white angel sitting on someone’s right shoulder with a red devil sitting on the left. The angel encourages good behavior and good decisions while the devil encourages bad ones. The depiction is actually very much in line with the Orthodox concept of spiritual warfare, that the devil declares war on each human soul by inundating it with lies. God also battles for each soul by declaring truth. God is patient. So is the devil. It’s up to us which voice we listen to. It’s also up to us to be careful and vigilant, because the devil sometimes actually appears as a white angel in disguise. He appeared in Paradise and that’s what cost Adam and Eve Paradise. Thus, he can appear in churches, in friendships, in things that are wholesome, to the most pious of people. Thus, we not only have to listen for the truth of God, but we have to pray and to guard against the lies and attractiveness of the devil.

Have mercy on me, O God. Have mercy on me.

Though I have sinned, O Savior, yet I know that You are full of loving-kindness. You chastise with mercy and are fervent in compassion. You see me weeping and You run to meet me, like the Father calling back the Prodigal Son. (Canon of St. Andrew, Ode One, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)

Guard your soul today. Seek the truth of God. Beware of the lies of the devil. Good strength in the battle.


Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced multiple books, you can view here:


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